With winter approaching, Pennsylvania and New Jersey will see ice and snow accumulation during the next few months. From this inclement weather, there is an increased chance of suffering slip and fall injuries. Slip and fall accident damages caused by ice or snow can be devastating. These damages may include physical injury, significant pain, extensive medical treatments, inability to work, and a negative impact to quality of life. If you suffered setbacks caused in a slip and fall incident, consider your legal options by consulting with a personal injury attorney. The owner of the property where you were injured can possibly be held liable for your injury.
General Slip and Fall Injury Information
As noted generally by FindLaw, “if a person who is injured on another’s property can show that the property owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition, and didn’t fix it, it’s likely that the injured person will be able to win his or her case.” While the definition by FindLaw seems straight forward, there are various factors to consider, including how quickly a dangerous condition was addressed and the conduct of the injured party. Each slip and fall case is unique depending on the actions of both the injured party and the property owner leading up to the incident.
Slip and Fall Injuries Involving Ice and Snow
Similarly to general slip and fall legal considerations, accidents caused by ice and snow investigate two questions. Did the property owner practice reasonable care? Did the injured party exercise caution prior to the slip and fall accident. FindLaw’s general definition of a property owner’s responsibilities is “a property owner has a duty to maintain reasonably safe conditions on his or her property.” This responsibility extends to the removal of ice and snow from the premises to protect visitors from injury caused by the slippery surfaces.
While responsibilities seem straight forward, there is flexibility related to winter clean-up due to the “natural accumulation rule”. This rule relieves a property owner of liability when there is a natural accumulation of snow or ice by specifying that clean-up must occur as soon as it is reasonable to do so. So following a snow storm’s conclusion, a business must engage in clearing their property. If the business ignores that responsibility, the property owner may be liable for any slip and fall accidents caused by the conditions.
Please note that while property owners are responsible for maintaining safe conditions on their property, the law requires that visitors follow a duty of care. Common knowledge is that surfaces covered by ice and snow may be slippery. The previous statement assigns an obligation for you to practice caution while walking on slippery surfaces. For example, sprinting down an ice path with knowledge of the risk would impede you from holding the property owner liable for your injuries.
Proving Liability in Your Case
Due to the complexity related to the information above, proving liability in a slip and fall case is extremely complicated. In many instances, a decision might rest on the evidence produced by either side. For this reason, evidence documentation is critical. Take pictures of the scene immediately following the accident. Also following your accident, photograph your slip and fall injuries. It is also important to seek medical attention immediately after your fall. After your appointment request medical records from the doctor. Locating witnesses at the scene of your accident and collecting their contact information is another important documentation step.
When proving liability in your slip and fall case, FindLaw.com states, “A property owner’s reasonableness is often balanced against the care that the person that slipped and fell should have used. What follows are some guidelines that courts and insurance companies use when determining fault in slip and fall accidents.” After suffering a slip and fall accident injury on someone else’s property from a dangerous condition, you will need to prove one of the three conditions in order to win a case. These conditions are listed below:
- Based on “reasonable” expectations, a property owner or property employee should have been aware of the dangerous condition and fixed it.
- The property owner or property employee knew about the dangerous condition and failed to correct it.
- The property owner or property employee directly caused the dangerous condition.
Do You Have Slip and Fall Liability Questions?
If you have suffered a slip and fall injury, please reach out to our legal team at Spear Greenfield immediately. Our primary goal is providing quality representation to injured parties. An additional goal is to ensure personal injury victims have someone fighting for their best interests. The Spear Greenfield attorneys will engage in fact finding and discussions to accurately evaluate your case and determine your legal options. To learn more about the benefits of partnering with Spear Greenfield, please click on the link below.
We offer a free initial consultation to learn more details about your accident and discuss your legal options. This consultation does not carry any pressure or obligation, just information. Call Spear Greenfield today or complete the form fill to schedule your fee consultation!